Little victories

For people who have complex, life-threatening problems, it isn't always possible to manage their pain without powerful narcotics, which adversely affect their presence of mind and quality of life and may accelerate disease.

On the other hand, people often can cut back significantly on prescription painkillers, making client and family alike more committed to the treatment process.

The same is true with conditions that, on the surface, may seem less serious. These include asthma, allergies, skin problems, headaches and hemorrhoids.

Asthma, allergies and skin problems are associated with inflammation. Because cancer and heart disease are driven at least in part by inflammation, the benefits of resolving these other conditions can have cross-systemic benefits. And when people look better and breathe better, they're usually happier, too.

Reducing sugar intake, vastly broadening the range of colorful foods in the diet and increasing intake of zinc and magnesium help the airways. Along with the use of liquid herbal extracts in combination, people often find they no longer need their inhalers.

Probiotics, the beneficial bacteria from fermented foods, also available as supplements, can help relieve skin and airway problems and maintain the regularity that helps people keep hemorrhoids at bay.

Headaches have many causes that often are hard to narrow down. Some basic habits, such as proper hydration, especially in the summer heat, shouldn't be overlooked. Another possible factor in headaches is micronutrient inadequacy. Getting sufficient B vitamins and minerals to maintain proper energy production in the body often can help. Magnesium is especially important for relaxing blood vessels, and it can reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack.

Hemorrhoids are a painful condition many women experience as a result of childbirth, but that's not the only cause, and they torment both sexes. Hemorrhoids are swollen and inflamed veins that can be managed and often cured through a modified diet rich in fiber, along with foods, herbs and supplements that strengthen blood vessels and reduce inflammation. The supplements contain a range of plant-based compounds that give people a leg up toward faster resolution of this painful problem.

Helpful foods include buckwheat, which contains a healthful compound called rutin, and berries, which contain other pigment powerhouses that help reduce inflammation and improve vein tonicity. Once the problem is resolved, these folks are usually grateful from their bottoms up to the bottom of their hearts.

It doesn't take much to score your own little victories in getting over problems that may seem relatively minor but could actually be the tip of a more serious iceberg. Though it's sometimes possible to put up with uncomfortable conditions for a while, procrastination sometimes can lead to serious health consequences.

And oftentimes, resolving these problems naturally can result in a big smiley face.

Michael Altman is a nutritionist at Mederi Centre for Natural Healing and Ventana Wellness. He also teaches nutrition and environmental health at Southern Oregon University and College of the Siskiyous. Email him at

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